Last week the Westside Leadership Institute Fall 2016 cohort celebrated their graduation. The fourteen students came together with their families, teachers, and class organizers to share their project highlights and receive recognition for their achievements.
Westside Leadership Institute (WLI) began in 2004 as a leadership class offered through a partnership with UNP, NeighborWorks Salt Lake (formerly Neighborhood Housing Services), and Salt Lake Weed & Seed and co-taught by University faculty and community resident leaders. Since that first class the course has seen growth and an evolution of partners and has seen close to 400 graduates from very diverse backgrounds. Many of those graduates have gone on to continue the work from their projects – some forming community organizations and 501c3 non-profits! Classes are taught in 12-week sessions with a Spanish class taught in the spring and an English course in the fall.
During the 12-week course students hone their leadership and communication skills, develop collaborations, learn to strategize, gain research knowledge, and become civically engaged while earning college credit. Each student becomes a catalyst for positive change within their community.
The projects WLI students have worked on vary greatly, but this cohort’s projects were as follows:
Mental Health Hygiene Research Clinic
Students – Amanda, Sheny, Jaqueline, Maria Cala & Patricia
The students came together with concerns about depression and suicide. They learned that suicides are among the leading causes of death among young Hispanics. They held focus groups to answer questions with the ultimate goal of finding ways to prevent depression and its impact on society.
Job Readiness for Refugees
Students– Ayad, Ali, Alan, Wisam & Ibrahim
This project provides job skills training opportunities for new refugees, aimed at boosting their employability and helping them to get their first job in the United States. They developed a pathway to employment for the new arrivals.
Tears & Happiness: Empowering Narratives
Students – Thelma, Kederesi, Dora, Elizabeth
This group produced a book based on their true life stories. The authors come from diverse backgrounds and have a large potential audience that they hope to show that regardless of one’s past, there’s always a way forward through positivity and inner strength.
We congratulate all of them on their hard work!
Learn more about Westside Leadership Institute:
Event photos from NeighborWorks Salt Lake